Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O
In April of 2013 Eshon Burgundy stunned the CHH community by announcing that he was signing with Humble Beast Records. That news had CHH buzzing because it was like two giants in the genre coming together in a way that hasn’t really happened often. Up to that point Eshon had already built a rather stellar resume and was coming off the heels of releasing, what some would consider his best project yet, Blood Rushing to my Head.
The anticipation for this new venture is through the roof, but fans had to wait for almost two years for an album. As of today that wait is over! Eshon releases his Humble Beast debut album entitled The Fear of God. This looks to be a dream scenario for fans, as the Humble Beast resources and production, teams up with one of the best emcees in the genre. However, did the wait and anticipation set the bar too high, as it has done to so many artists before? Or did Eshon make it worth the wait?
Eshon is an artist that doesn’t really stray too far from his wheelhouse with his sound. Typically, Eshon is heavy with the boom bap and he likes to bring in some samples from time to time, but that’s pretty much his sound. This works for him and he has mastered this particular corner, and kind of rules over it. You would be hard pressed to find a better emcee over boom bap than Eshon Burgundy. “The Fear of God” is the only example you need. Production wise, it is heavy on the boom bap, so long time Eshon fans should know what to expect. He mixes in some soft melodies and soulful hooks to give the listener some different sounds, but the overall feel is the same. “The Healthy” is a good example of this as well. The boom bap almost instantly hits and Eshon just rides it, and then brings in the soulful hook. This is the general feel and equation of the whole record. That gritty feel is where Eshon seems most comfortable and where his talents can shine the most.
Eshon has never been one to be subtle about his faith in any form or fashion. The Fear of God follows that pattern. It is a very overtly Christian record. It’s not a Lamp Mode or early Reach type record, in the sense that he doesn’t break down specific passages or scenes from the Bible. Eshon’s approach is to just let scripture run naturally throughout his rhymes. This record gives off the feel that when Eshon is rapping, the gospel just spills out from his heart.
The Fear of God has more of a biblical and theological approach. This album is a faith building one that encourages the spirit and soul. There are times throughout this record that it will have you cheering as Christian, because Eshon delivers his lines so eloquently. This is never more evident than on the John Givez assisted “Respect, Power and Money” when he says, “Although I played with God he never played with me/He could have killed me in my sin but instead decided to set me free.” Eshon consistently delivers lines that are full of encouragement for the believer.
As a listener, one of the most exciting experiences is listening to all of the collaborations on the record. Just hearing how the artists came together to create their art and seeing if the song lived up to the “on paper” expectations of the collab, leads plenty a fan to purchase an album. Eshon has some pretty sizeable collaborations on The Fear of God, as there is a good mixture of up and comers and veterans on the project.
Collaborations are always a slippery slope because they can be a hit or miss, but Eshon handled these collaborations very well, as each artist that was brought on matched his style and the sound of the record beautifully. John Givez liquid smooth deliver and phenomenal lyricism added something very special to “Respect, Power and Money.” JGivens added his dynamic personality perfectly and it beautifully juxtaposed the soulfulness of JR on “Come Alive.” Braille and Eshon give all the hip-hop heads a track that can be salivated over for months on “Retro Sonday.” Eshon also added some great soulful voices throughout the record to take the edge off of the gritty tone of the record.
The production also had a fair amount of collaborations that are very intriguing to CHH fans. The expectation may have been that Courtland Urbano may have handled most of the production but he was only present for about one fourth of the record. Other big names like Wit and Swoope offered a hand on the project. Then for most of the record there was Daniel Steele. A relative unknown in CHH (at least to this album review) but he definitely made a name for himself by providing the perfect backdrop for Eshon to do what he does best. The overall collaborations on The Fear of God were done very well and certainly live up to the “on paper” hype.
This album is everything that you would hope to expect from an Eshon Burgundy album. The lyricism is delivered flawlessly, the production sounded great, and it provides plenty of playback value. If you are a fan of Eshon Burgundy or of gritty lyricism over boom bap type production, then The Fear of God is a record you will want to hear. Even if that’s not the type of sound you generally like, Eshon and more particularly this record, is worth a shot. His delivery and flawless lyricism could win anyone over and is worth being heard by many.